First There Was Hot Yoga. Then There Was Goat Yoga

Believe it or not, yogis have been practicing with goats in the Unites States for more than a year.

photo by joy frank-collins

On a handful of days throughout the year, a picturesque hillside pasture in Presto, Pa. is dotted with more than 150 yoga mats. First-timers and experienced yogis alike gather for an hour of yoga … in the company of a herd of horned, bearded, cloven-hooved creatures.

The practice of goat yoga got its start in the Pacific northwest in 2016 and has since become a national phenomenon. NamastHay Goat Yoga of Pittsburgh staged its first event for 55 curious yoga enthusiasts in October 2016; subsequent events have tripled in size. A joint effort by yoga instructor Jen Stratakis and Rainy Laux of Have U Herd Goatscaping, goat yoga brings a bit of whimsy to the ancient practice that connects the body, mind and spirit.

“There’s this word in Sanskrit: Lila. It means sacred play,” says Stratakis. “And certainly doing yoga with goats is playful and lighthearted — you can’t help but laugh. So I view it as a form of Lila.”

The event does produce more positive effects than stretches and laughter: NamastHay donates a portion of the proceeds from each event to a different animal-related rescue or preservation organization in the region.

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